Review of Dan Brown’s book,

“The Da Vinci Code”





Dan Brown has becoming a best selling author with the popularity of his book, “The Da Vinci Code.” The book was so popular with readers that Hollywood decided to capitalize on it by producing a movie by the same title starring actor Tom Hanks. What Dan Brown writes about in his book is not new (as demonstrated by the recent law-suit by Robert Leigh). The same idea about a religious conspiracy has been around for centuries. This book is a work of fiction! While some of what Brown states in the book is based on fact, the majority of what he writes is not. In this review of the book we will discuss some of the historical inaccuracies of “The Da Vinci Code” which seek to undermine Christianity. We hope that this study will help you to determine what is fact and what is fiction in Brown’s book and so many others like it.


The Plot of “The Da Vinci Code”


The curator of the Louvre has been murdered. He was the last surviving member of a society called the “Priory of Zion” which was preserving and keeping an earth shattering secret about the holy grail. The secret was that the holy grail wasn’t a cup that caught Jesus’ blood, it was His wife, Mary Magdalene, who bore his children and whose descendants are still around today.


As the two main characters figure out clues and puzzles that lead them to see this secret, they are stalked by a killer who will stop at nothing to destroy any record of this secret.


The Implications


            1.         Jesus was just a man, not God.

            2.         The Bible is merely a manmade document.

            3.         Jesus was a great teacher, but one whose life was high-jacked and used to build a money making religion we call Christianity.

            4.         The Bible was constructed by the early church to solidify their power base.


What “The Da Vinci Code” Says


Leigh Teabing, an important character in “The Da Vinci Code” asserts that the Bible was a fictional account produced by men for their own financial benefit. He also claims that Jesus was a great man, but only a man.


“What I mean,” Teabing countered, “is that almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false.” (p.235)


“The Bible is a product of man, my dear. Not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds. Man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times and it has evolved through countless translations, additions, and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.” (p.231)


“Jesus Christ was a historical figure of staggering influence, perhaps the most enigmatic and inspirational leader the world has ever seen… Understandably, His life was recorded by thousands of followers across the land… More than eighty gospels were considered for the NT, and yet only a relative few were chosen for inclusion – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John among them.” (p.231)


“Constantine commissioned and financed a new Bible, which omitted those gospels that spoke of Christ’s human traits and embellished those gospels that made Him godlike. The earlier gospels were outlawed, gathered up, and burned.”


“Fortunately for historians,” Teabing said, “some of the gospels that Constantine attempted to eradicate managed to survive. The Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the 1950’s hidden in a cave near Qumran in the Judean desert. And, of course, the Coptic Scrolls in 1945 at Nag Hammadi… these documents speak of Christ’s ministry in very human terms.” (p.234)


Dan Brown asserts that the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi documents are the earliest “Christian” documents and the “Gospels” from the Nag Hammadi library are the “unaltered Gospels” which are to be trusted. So which documents are reliable?


The Dead Sea Scrolls


¨    Found in 1947 in eleven caves near Qumran by the dead sea.

¨    Thousands of texts dating from the third century BC to the first century AD.

¨    Written by the Essenes, a Jewish sect which had separated from the general public because they believed the general Jewish population was religiously corrupt.

¨    Hid the rules of their sect and all these other documents because they feared hostility from the Romans.

¨    Contain all the Old Testament books except Esther.

¨    No New Testament writings were in the dead sea find.

¨    The Dead Sea Scrolls confirm that the Old Testament was accurately preserved.


Conclusion: The Dead Sea Scrolls are NOT early Christian documents.



The Nag Hammadi Documents


¨    Discovered in Egypt in 1945

¨    45 Texts written in Coptic (Egyptian)

¨    Written by followers of the Gnostic religion

¨    Dated 2nd to 3rd Century AD.

¨    Only about 20 claim to be gospels.

¨    Don’t portray Jesus as being merely human. Some portrayed Jesus as being so divine that He wasn’t really human at all.

¨    False “Gospels” don’t really say what Brown says they say. They don’t say Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ wife, they don’t say that Jesus was only a human prophet, etc. (check them out online! They’re short enough!)


Conclusion: The Nag Hammadi don’t say what Dan Brown claims they do.


What the Gnostics Taught


¨    Material world is evil. Spiritual realm is good.

¨    Jesus was not a man.

¨    Jesus didn’t really die on the cross.

¨    Jesus shared a secret knowledge with only a few special individuals.


Irenaeus, an early Christian writer (130-202 AD), mentions some of these Gnostic Gospels and why there were rejected by the early church.


The Apostle Paul warned the young pastor Timothy about an early form of Gnostic teaching when he said,


“O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen” (1 Timothy 6:20-21 NKJV).


Conclusion: The Gnostic “Christians” weren’t really Christians at all.


The Reliable New Testament


¨    There are over 24,000 existing manuscripts of the NT books.


Documents of                    Existing Manuscripts

Plato                                                 7

Thucydides                                       8

Gallic Wars                                     10

Tacitus                                            10

Aristotle                                          49

Iliad                                                643          

New Testament                           24,000


¨    Despite the large numbers of New Testament copies, OVER 99% of the text is exactly the same in all copies. All variants that matter at all could be put on a single sheet of paper. NONE of these variants alter a single teaching presented in the New Testament.

¨    Prophecy from the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament confirms the validity of the New Testament and it’s message concerning Jesus.

¨    The Holy Spirit’s preservation of the Old and New Testaments confirms their trustworthiness.


How Did We Get Our Bible?


Dan Brown was right about one thing. The Bible didn’t fall from the sky. The Holy Spirit chose a much more astonishing way to give us the New Testament books that reveal our Savior from sin. The Holy Spirit moved Christian men like Paul and Peter to write letters to different Christian congregations and individuals.


In the centuries to follow, the Holy Spirit’s inspired Word didn’t need the validation of the councils of men because the Holy Spirit remained with His Word, preserving it and working in the hearts of those who read it.


Over time, Christians recognized the Holy Spirit’s stamp of approval and the books which were Holy Spirit proven eventually began to be published together.


Dan Brown claims that the books of the Bible were chosen at the direction of the Roman Emperor Constantine (272-337 AD), in an attempt to solidify his power, etc. Constantine didn’t ever commission a “New Bible” at all. Besides, the writings of earlier Christian leaders (long before Constantine) show us that the books of the Bible were accepted by Christians long before Constantine came along.


What the Bible Says


“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV).


“Knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21 NKJV).


“But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31 NKJV).


The Bible says that it was authored by the Holy Spirit. The Bible says that the reason the scriptures were written was to show people that Jesus is the Son of God who came to save sinners and bring eternal life.


Using “The Da Vinci Code” to Show People Their Savior


We should thank Dan Brown for bringing up the topic of Jesus and the reliability of the Bible. Because of Dan Brown, Christians are blessed with more opportunities to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.


What Good Could “The Da Vinci Code” do?


When was the last time a person walked up and said, “I’ve been wondering about Jesus, could you tell me about what he was all about?” Unbelievers don’t usually present Christians with clear and obvious openings to declare the Good News (at least not like this). Often Christians are reluctant to begin a discussion about Jesus without some kind of invitation. When someone brings up “The Da Vinci Code” Christians have been given an invitation.


Deliver the Truth and Demolish the Lie


When someone asks you about “The Da Vinci Code” they have voluntarily taken themselves out of the secular realm of conversation and plopped themselves in the religious realm. It is here that a Christian has a clear opportunity to direct a person’s attention to the central teaching of the one true religion: Jesus Christ lived, died and rose from the dead to take away the sins of the world.


1.   Deliver the Truth. Use something they’ve said to introduce the specific Gospel of Jesus (Jesus died to take away your sins, trust in Him).

2.   Demolish the Lie. Point out where Dan Brown’s “facts” are not supported by evidence.


Things to Remember



1.   It’s not an argument to win, it’s an opportunity to save.

2.   The Spirit works through the Word.

3.   Challenge them to think.

a.   What don’t you believe about the Bible? Why?

b.   Have you read much from the Gospels?

c.   Who do you think Jesus is? How do you know?

4.   Suggest they read the Gospel of John.

5.   Practice a Gospel Presentation (lived, died, buried, risen).


Don’t Get Bogged Down in Details!


We should not be primarily concerned about Dan Brown’s poor relaying of history. Nor should we be concerned so much with his interesting interpretation of art. His book is fiction after all. As Christians we should be mostly concerned with the theological ideas which stand behind his fiction. Those theological ideas disrespect and attempt to discredit the true God and His Son. We should be careful not to spend valuable time discussing the little details about “The Da Vinci Code”, and so miss the opportunity to share the saving truth about the Jesus.


Response Examples


1. So, how do you know that Jesus wasn’t married to Mary Magdalene?


Deliver the Truth: The Bible says that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene very much. He died on the cross for her sins, and for us. In doing so Jesus took away Mary’s sins and ours and made us acceptable to God the Father.


Demolish the Lie: The Bible doesn’t say Mary Magdalene and Jesus were married, and neither does any other ancient text. That was part of the fiction of Brown’s book, not the fact.


2. The Roman Emperor Constantine had the Bible made to strengthen his power.


Deliver the Truth: The Bible says that sinners are saved through trust in Jesus, not through obedience to the government or any other outward organization.


Demolish the Lie: Early Christians recognized that the New Testament writings were from God long before Constantine was around. And they wrote about it! There aren’t any documents which tell us that Constantine had a “new” Bible produced. That was part of the fiction of Brown’s book, not the fact.


3. There were thousands of written records about Jesus’ life written by His followers. How can you be sure you have the right ones?


Deliver the Truth: The Old Testament of the Bible was written before Jesus was born. It predicted how God’s Son would save the sinful people of the world. The true New Testament books show that Jesus is our predicted Savior.


Demolish the Lie: There are thousands of ancient manuscripts of the New Testament, but only a few of the documents that Dan Brown says represent the “real Christianity”. Read the Gospel of John and some of the “Gospels” Dan Brown mentions. The Holy Spirit will show you which are His.


Whatever happens, pray. And remember your power source…

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16 NKJV).

This study was prepared for the Bible Class at Redemption Lutheran Church, Lynnwood, WA by Pastor Caleb Schaller and was reworked and edited into this form by Pastor Nathanael Mayhew.

If you would like more information about this study,
please contact Pastor Mayhew